How to Make Moonshots
Astro Teller

Shooting for the moon

X is famous, not just for your numerus crazy-like and wonderful projects, but for your leadership and project managment as well. The frequently shared idea about failing as a source of learning, encouraging people to kill their own projects and so forth seems to have a dramatically effect on the people working for and within X and it’s projects. According to Astro Teller’s talk at Stanford Technology Ventures Program at April last year, this approach to human beings should not be limited to technology development, but ought to be somewhat universally useful. However celebrated this approach to management, creativity and maybe even the human condition is, it seems to me however to be strongly under-researched. And given X’s ambition to make huge and meaning full changes to the better of humanity, I fear that the greatest invention within the company, the culture it has been building, might not deliver on it’s potential. I would be honored if I could be even a small part of changing that fact — and I believe I can become more than just a small part.

I am for the time being finishing my Masters at Anthropology of Education and Gobalization at Aarhus University, Denmark. A part of finishing this, is so-called “fieldwork” within some setting that seems to be important or relevant, to either the field of anthropology, society, academia, or something else. And X is more than a little relevant for all the said criteria, as well as my personal interests in tech and development, and my professional and academic interests and ambitions within leadership, pedagogics and creativity.

What I would like to suggest, or maybe rather ask, is access to X. In my mind, I would follow a team for some three months. In their everyday work, in meetings, lunches, ups and downs. Though I will, obviously, not become nor function as an engineer, I will follow and participate in their work as at all possible, trying to document their way of working, their problems and success and everything in-between. However, ethnography has a tradition of changing in negotiation with “the field” and something else might be more fruitful for as well X, the people working there and myself. These interactions will of course be made with curtion to ethics, so that no one is in any way harmed, and so that company secrets (nature of project) will not be discussed or published, without the expressed permission from X.

This fieldwork will generate my “ethnographic data”, and become basis for my master’s thesis, and possibly a ph.d, concerning leadership and creativity’s everyday aspects. The aim is to identify the everyday processes of creativity and learning. And most importantly; what can this tell us about how human beings does work, learn and create on a day-to-day basis.

My moonshot in this, Is to become part of changing how, especially educational, pedagogics are thought. I am building on the radical, yet old, idea that failing ought to be allowed, in order for anyone to learn. As moonshots go, this is not in itself terribly likely, and several things can block that moonshot; maybe principles of working are not really identifiable, maybe the principles are not transferrable, maybe this is not at all cost-efficient or a lot of other potential problems. However, the first step in getting anywhere near the moonshot, would definitely be the opportunity to study the everyday life of creativity in the making, with a focus on the lives at a cutting edge world, and I truly hope to gain your support in this.

Best wishes, Stephan Hansen, AU. (i lack of better, I have send this message to different potential “access points” to X. I apologize if I have been spamming the same person, this has not been my intention)